The internet and social media are considered as new tools to seek health information. Health misinformation is defined as a health-related claim of fact that is false due to the lack of scientific reliable evidence. These kinds of information are produced both intentionally or non-intentionally and can impose negative impact on the population health. This study was aimed to explore the strategies to deal with the health misinformation from the professionals' viewpoints.
This qualitative study was conducted applying content analysis approach in 2018-2019. In this regard, 8 semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals of Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences. Snowball sampling method was used to identify the eligible interviewees. Data was analyzed using the content analysis by Max QDA 10 software.
Analysis of interviews resulted in a main theme (strategies to deal with the negative consequences of online health misinformation) and 14 sub-themes of training health workers at all levels, creating responsible organizations for public education about the online web, improving the public education efforts, improving the general culture of society on the informed use of online technology, informing society about the impossibility of trusting all online information, disseminating the educational advertising, placing filters to prevent from the dissemination of inaccurate information, establishing the information verifying and validation mechanisms, improving the book reading culture, raising peoples’ awareness of and sensitivity to misinformation, having accurate accountability by specialists, learning how to think, improving the culture of critical thinking, making correct decisions based on the extensive information/taking into account several items in the case of decision making.
According to the final analysis of the experts' viewpoint, the most important ways to deal with inaccurate information in the cyberspace were to increase the public awareness, reduce the reliability of all published data, and verify them repeatedly. These strategies can prevent from many traumatic consequences.
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